Stereolab- Fab Four Suture

By Stephen Paulin

Published on Sunday, April 23, 2006

Stereolab are a very experimental post-rock band who combine a multitude of influences including 1960s pop music, electronica and even lounge music. The result is very unusual but easy to listen to. Fab Four Suture is a compilation of recent singles released on 7-inch vinyl, and it is the latest addition to their large back catalog which contains eleven albums, several compilations and EPs and numerous single releases.

The album is bookended by the two parts of Kybernetica Babicka, which sounded dull and unimaginative on their own EP but as the opening and closing sections of this record they work a lot better. In fact they are probably two of the best songs on the album, and this change is due just to a minor adjustment in arrangement. This album shows that even after fourteen years together Stereolab are still produce music of wide variety, whether it is the 70s electronic funk of Interlock with it’s eerie vocals and simple bass playing combined with trumpets, or the 1950s pop sounding Eye of the Volcano which follows it, and also contains virtually unnoticeable political lyrics in amongst the sugar coated pop. Another example of how the rearrangement from EP to full length has benefited the album is Plastic Mile which previously sounded out of place beside the upbeat, tempo building I Was A Sunny Rainphase, now fits in perfectly as the start of 3 more relaxing downbeat songs. The next of these three songs is Get A Shot Of The Refrigerator, which I personally think is a great song, not just because of it’s excellent name. It sounds brilliant and maddening at the same time with muted trumpets in the background and vocals that alternate from speakers. The synthesizers in the following two songs may sound over used to some, but to most they will remind them of 1980s new wave pop. Vodiak opens with short bursts that sound from one speaker then the other and the whole song slowly builds with more instruments and rhythms being introduced as the song moves along. The vocals on the record are consistent throughout showing that Laetitia Sadier can sing capably one her own, although the loss of the late Mary Hansen is noticeable on some songs for example Whisper Pitch could have been a better song with her vocal talent. Excursions Into ‘oh, a-oh’, is another excellently named song, it changes completely midway through from electronic samba rhythm into a heavier piece of post-punk rock. Widow Weirdo begins to bring the album to a close with a slow introduction and then speeding up and branching out wildly with Franch singing around halfway through the song. The album then finishes as it started with Kybernetica Babicka Pt. 2, which is an apt closer to this record.

For the current fans of Stereolab this is by no means an essential buy, as the majority of the songs have been previously released, on albums, EPs, singles and vinyl. But for a first time listener this a great record to introduce the weird and wonderful Stereolab into your music collection.

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